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SA’s outback gem will shine at the 35th annual Opal Festival 

PIC – Flinders Ranges & Outback. South Australian Tourism Commission
Abbie Tiller

A colourful celebration of fun for Coober Pedy

On top of all of the incredible wonders South Australia has on its doorstep, this vast state of rugged outback, pristine beaches, world-class wine and succulently fresh seafood, is also the best place in the world to find a dazzling display of rare and colourful gems.

Coober Pedy is the Opal capital of that e World, and if you haven’t ventured North to explore the unique underground mining town, there’s no better time to visit than in June, to be part of the festivities at the famous annual Opal Festival.

Marking 35 years of colourful celebrations, Coober Pedy Opal Festival unites people from diverse backgrounds to celebrate the unique culture and rich history of opal mining.

This year’s theme is Opal Dreaming – a nod to both the indigenous community and to the characters who’ve rolled into the underground town over the years, dreaming of opal.

Kicking off on Friday June 14, the Opal Festival is well worth the trip, with opportunities for your own opal dreaming adventures. Have a go at “black lighting”, with trusted guides taking you out into the dark starry night using black lights to search for opal. There’ll be opal exhibitions and opportunities to check out the incredibly unique sites of Coober Pedy, which last year was crowned SA’s Small Tourist Town of the Year.

Dreaming of Opal, fun and outback skies?

With a population of 1500, patriotic locals will take to the town’s Main Street on the Saturday (June 15) for a colourful street parade of floats, and a convoy of old cars, trucks, Miners and mining equipment, all leading to the town oval where the party really starts.

Adelaide’s premier party band, GENX, along with other live musical performers, will be pumping out classic tunes until after dark. There’ll be market stalls and entertainment, from face painting to a mobile shooting range and you can even go noodling for your very own piece of sparkling Coober Pedy opal.

A big line-up of food vans will be serving up tasty dishes for everyone, from American BBQ bites, pizzas, spuds, Greek cuisine, a delicious fresh lemonade cart and wine from another SA gem, the Clare Valley.

And when you’ve settled in for the day, it’ll be time to show off your skills – there’s plenty of comps throughout the afternoon, from tug-of-war to a box-cart race, a water balloon toss and prizes for those who can hold a bag of opal the longest.

The program is huge, the entertainment is non-stop and it’ll be topped off with a dazzling display of colour in the outback sky, with a fireworks display on night fall, before the fun revs up again on Sunday at the town’s Speedway track!



“Opal demand bigger than ever”

Chairman of the Coober Pedy Retail, Business and Tourism Association, George Kountouris, said the annual festival was a hugely important part of the town’s identity. “Coober Pedy is such a unique place,” he said. “It produces 80 percent of the world’s opal and is the opal capital of the world without a doubt.”

Once a thriving mining town with around 4000 Miners of various nationalities, “dreaming of opal”, George is one of 40 miners still in the game, and said demand for opal was bigger than it’s ever been.

“Different markets, including the Indian market for white based stones, as well as modern technology allowing sellers to have more control of the markets, has been positive for our opal industry,” he said.

And despite facing similar challenges to most rural communities over the years, George, whose family began opal mining at Coober Pedy in the 1960’s said “opal made this town, and opal will continue to make it a success”.

He said this year’s milestone Opal Festival was made possible thanks to countless hours of volunteer hours as well as financial support from businesses such as EDL – the town’s electricity supplier, BHP and Peak Iron Mines.

For visitors to the festival, there are a range of accommodation options, as well as free camping venues and some great places to grab a bite. The Big Winch 360 Cafe and Restaurant, overlooking the extraordinary lunar landscape is world class, John’s Pizza Bar and Restaurant is well-known for the signature “Coat of Arms” pizza, and the Outback Bar and Grill do a sensational souvlaki.

Coober Pedy Opal Festival
When: June 14-16
For info:
Click here

For all the dirt on Coober Pedy, including attractions, accommodation, dining etc click here.




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